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Premier League Preview: Liverpool vs. Cardiff City

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  • Third league meeting since 1959
  • Liverpool trails Man City on goal differential
  • Cardiff leads all-time 18W-3D-11L

Cardiff City heads to Liverpool on Saturday in search of its first win at Anfield since 1959 (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock spun a few good quotes in the run-up to the game, as the Bluebirds are enjoying their first week outside the drop zone after a win over Fulham.

The first was praise for Jurgen Klopp… and Liverpool’s budget.

“It must be lovely being in charge of a team like that but he’s created it,” Warnock said. “They haven’t always been like that. He saw what weaknesses there were and he’s shored them up.”

Liverpool is much closer to full fitness than its been in some time, meaning Warnock will prepare for the dangerous trident of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah. They combined for four goals in a midweek Champions League rout of Red Star Belgrade.

Klopp says only Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita remain out for the Reds.

What they’re saying

Klopp on new third, fourth captains Van Dijk, Wijnaldum“I decided (injured Henderson and Milner) will stay, that was 100 percent the logical thing to do, and it would have been like that if we voted.  And I said, the next two, the players can vote for. Now we have two Dutch guys in a row because the team decided no.3 for Virgil and no.4 for Gini. If somebody would have told me in my life that that would have happened – me, a German, and two Dutch guys in such important roles! But no, it was the players’ decision.”

Cardiff boss Neil Warnock on Virgil van Dijk: “I’m delighted he’s playing like he is. We could have bought him at Palace for £6 million but my chief scout told me he was too slow. I think he’s still in a job as well.”

Prediction

Cardiff City has shown itself capable of pouncing on mistakes, but Liverpool seems to be just turning the corner with its top attackers. 4-1 to the hosts.

Salah, Van Dijk updates following injuries on int’l duty

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Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk are expected to be available for Saturday’s Premier League clash with Huddersfield Town (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC and NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 9

The Egyptian and the Dutchman each suffered an injury during the most recent international break, but both returned to full training on Wednesday and Thursday. Jurgen Klopp is expected to name both his star winger and star center back in the starting lineup at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Salah suffered an undisclosed muscular injury to his leg during Egypt’s 4-1 victory over Swaziland last Friday and missed altogether the Pharaohs’ following game three days later.

[ VIDEO: Wayne Rooney swerves long free kick around the wall ]

Van Dijk carried a pre-existing rib injury into the international break, thus the 27-year-old was held out of the Netherlands’ friendly with Belgium on Tuesday. He played all 90 minutes, and scored a goal, in the Oranje‘s 3-0 dismantling of Germany on Saturday.

The latest updates on Sadio Mane, Naby Keita and James Milner, however, aren’t so positive. Mane (thumb) and Milner (hamstring) aren’t expected to travel for Saturday’s fixture, while Keita (thigh) could be out for two weeks.

Mahrez misses late PK, Man City draw Liverpool

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  • No shots on target in first half
  • Van Dijk concedes late penalty
  • Mahrez misses it

Riyad Mahrez missed an 87th minute penalty kick as Man City and Liverpool played out a tense scoreless draw at Anfield on Sunday.

The draw leaves a three-way tie atop the Premier League table heading into the international break, with Man City, Chelsea, and Liverpool 1-2-3 on goal differential.

They’ll do it again on New Year’s Day at the Etihad Stadium.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

The energy was high from moment No. 1, and Kyle Walker spied an offside Riyad Mahrez. The breakaway was rightly denied by the offside flag.

Mohamed Salah dragged a fourth minute shot wide of the goal after working around John Stones.

Liverpool was the superior side for the first 20 minutes, though Sergio Aguero won a corner kick with a play that earned penalty shouts from the traveling fans.

An injury to James Milner introduced Naby Keita into the game at the half hour mark. Keita made his return following a nervy injury at midweek which saw him carted off the pitch at Napoli.

The half, to be honest, was about as disappointing as possible. Interesting in terms of tactical discussion, but not entertaining for the majority of play.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

The second half certainly picked up in terms of entertainment. Liverpool couldn’t generate a quality shot from a clever cut back into the 18, and Man City pressed high at the other end but couldn’t produce a shot, either.

David Silva sent Mahrez down the left wing, but the Algerian’s tough-angled shot missed the far post to cue up the final 30 minutes.

Mahrez was gifted another chance moments later, but sent his shot right to Alisson Becker. Ederson then caught Salah’s effort toward the Man City goal.

Salah then made a sensational touch after a quick goal kick for Liverpool, but he blazed his shot way over the goal.

Man City had a 74th minute break thwarted by a gutsy Lovren tackle of substitute Gabriel Jesus. City regained possession and Mahrez earned a corner with a low shot at Alisson.

Jesus nutmegged Lovren in the box and then hit the deck thanks to a paw from the Liverpool back, but no foul was given by Roger East. The penalty did arrive when Van Dijk’s sliding challenge missed its mark, but Mahrez sent his effort into outer space.

Liverpool issue injury update on Virgil van Dijk

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Life is pretty good at Anfield right now.

Liverpool made it six wins from six to open up the Premier League campaign — they have seven wins on the spin in all competitions to set a new club record for wins at the start of a season — as Jurgen Klopp‘s side eased past Southampton thanks to three first half goals.

[ MORE: Wolves draw at Man United ]

Yet the one negative was the fact that former Saints star Virgil Van Dijk came off in the second half with a rib injury.

With a pivotal stretch of games coming up in the League Cup, PL and UEFA Champions League, it seemed like Liverpool didn’t want to risk any further damage to their star center back.

Speaking about VVD’s injury after the game, Klopp told BBC 5 Live that Van Dijk “has a bruise on his rib, he’s uncomfortable but I don’t think it’s much more.” And Klopp also told Sky Sports that the center back had an injury in the same spot last week and that it isn’t anything too serious.

It will be intriguing to see if Virgil van Dijk is risked for the League Cup third round game against Chelsea at Anfield on Wednesday, especially with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip around and Dejan Lovren recently returning to training.

VVD has been influential in turning Liverpool’s defense into a stingy unit in recent months, with the Reds keeping eight-straight clean sheets at home in the Premier League. They last conceded at home in the PL to West Ham in February. Van Dijk arrived in January for $100 million, a world-record fee for a defender.

That is exactly why Liverpool won’t risk his fitness.

Smart move from Klopp to whip him off on Saturday as Liverpool have bigger fish to fry this season in all four competitions as their perfect start continues.

Stars and Duds from Spurs 1-2 Liverpool

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Tottenham Hotspur had almost nothing to offer aside from Lucas Moura, while it’s hard to find a criticism of Liverpool as the Reds cruised to a 2-0 win on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things ]

Stars

Virgil Van Dijk — There are times I believe I could keep a clean sheet for Liverpool with the big Dutchman back there. He simply nullifies any cross that isn’t magical, and makes life significantly easier for his center back partner and accompanying fullback.

Sadio Mane As usual, the Senegalese attacker was a pace merchant who caused problems with dribbles and tricks, but on Saturday he also pulled the strings at times in leading the attack. Now should he have conceded a stoppage time penalty kick? Perhaps VAR would’ve moved Mane off our list.

Lucas Moura — If Spurs had a star, it was the Brazilian, who was one of the few players relativley unbothered by the absence of Dele.

Naby Keita — Missing on a 64th minute bid to make it 3-0 almost stopped us short of keeping his name on this list, but he made a first-half star intervention in his own box to keep Spurs from a dangerous chance.

Jurgen Klopp — Opinion alert: Liverpool is a more complete team against possession-oriented squads when Jordan Henderson isn’t included as a key piece. Sitting his captain just after Henderson signed a new contract was a brave and smart move.

Duds

Mauricio Pochettino — Before we lay out Tottenham’s individual player failures, it’s important to note that a few of them were inspired by decisions of Spurs management. Playing Harry Winks wide in place of the injured Dele Alli had the entire unit out of whack and stopped Winks from doing what might’ve helped battle Liverpool’s 4-3-3: actually clogging the middle. That said..

Harry Winks — Better once moved into the middle of the fray, but still gave the ball away cheaply at times. Not a good day even considering he was put in a poor position by Pochettino.

Harry Kane — We know Dele wasn’t out there and Eriksen was playing a bit deeper, but this was not a performance befitting one of the best strikers in the world.

Eric Dier — Just sloppy. Rarely can you fault Dier for effort, which makes it hard to fault him, but he didn’t have his A or B game in the locker today and it was not going to be enough against the Reds.